Australian scientists have claimed that they have genetically modified rice to improve its tolerance to salt, leading to an increase in its production in areas affected by salinity.

“And work is already under way to transfer the technology to wheat and barley, other staple foods for billions of people around the world,” according to a report.

The scientists from the University of Adelaide worked in collaboration with colleagues based in Cairo, Copenhagen and Melbourne. The team used a new technique to trap salt in the root of the rice plant, reducing the amount building up in the shoots and increasing its tolerance. “The breakthrough offered the chance to increase global rice production, especially in areas where salinity was an issue,” said Research Associate Darren Plett, adding “rice is often grown on land that is prone to high levels of salinity”. “Lands that accumulate salt have lower crop yields, which can threaten food supply. This has made salinity tolerance an increasingly important factor in the efforts to secure global food production.”

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